Monday, October 1, 2012

"Night Walking"

Oh just a little creative writing brainstorm :-)

"She put on her headset and just couldn't walk fast enough.  She felt so anxious, in way she couldn't understand.  She'd already walked earlier in the day, but that knot was still somewhere in her stomach.  She hoped that if she walked farther and listened to all the usual--Nine Inch Nails, Police, maybe even a little Tori Amos--that things would feel better and she'd get some clarity.  To escape from everything; that's all she wanted.  It was so dark, so black, so nighttime.  What a relief it was for her to have the whole world disappear into the darkness and to hear only music."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Mom and Dad, I think I want an arranged marriage. Here's why."

What's the most important thing in a relationship?

I would argue the capacity for "growth."

This encompasses both you and your partner's ability to apologize and do better.  It further includes you working on YOU.  You growing as a person and evolving in such a way that you stay engaged with life.  There's nothing worse than being joined at the hip to someone who's bored or stagnating.

But "growth" is hard and can be threatening.  Most of us don't want to change.  Some people would rather just break up and move on to the next relationship.  New relationship, refuse to grow, break up.  Repeat.

How to break the cycle?

There needs to be a standard that both people respect.  An independent "third party" that dictates what's appropriate and what's not.  While some people might go so far as to make that "third party" God or religion, what most every couple ultimately settles on at least is marriage.

It's true that you *can* get divorced but it isn't ideal.  Marriage provides a powerful incentive for people to go to counseling and try to work things out.

Enter the concept of arranged marriage, as experienced by my Muslim friend who married a Pakistani.  She and her husband spent next to no time "courting."  They were engaged for a year, but for almost all of that time, she was in the States and he was in Pakistan.  All she knew is that she thought he was a good, handsome guy--which is why she gave her family the "go-ahead"--when it came time for them to line her up.

What followed was a thorough "vetting" process.  Both families interviewed each other extensively: "My child has these strengths, these needs.  You should know this, etc."  Custom dictates that families be honest with each other: the happiness of two young people are on their line.  It was decided that it was a good match.  My friend and the young man agreed.

So they got married.

My friend described how she got to know and love her husband over time, after tying the knot.  She considers herself lucky to have gotten lined up with such a great guy.  She is very happily married, and her husband was her first boyfriend and lover.  No time wasted on guys who didn't care about her.  No broken heart.  Just a relationship that worked.

It worked of course, because both parties entered into it with the intent of marrying.  No fooling around.  No, "oh maybe we'll get married someday."  Instead, just commitment and asking the tough questions on the front end and getting involved on the premise that with involvement comes responsibility and the obligation to work things out.  Work things out or go to a divorce court.

I really see the beauty in that, now that I'm 27 years old.  I've had enough life experience to see for myself that relationships are really tough.  But also that they don't have to be provided that both parties are willing to grow up, take responsibilities for the lives, and improve.

I've said it to my friends before and I'll say it again:

I believe that any two people with physical chemistry and "love," whatever that is, provided that they have the right values, can work things out and be happily married for the rest of their lives.

But there's a big IF.

IF both people are unselfish and willing to put work into it.

So now we live in a society where marriage is sort of optional.

A lot of people choose to live together first and sometimes that ends in a marriage, but sometimes it doesn't.

I've seen my share of couples part ways when love existed, but the values were missing.  Either one or both parties just wasn't willing to make the effort and own up to something that needed improvement.  There are so many broken hearts.

I'm starting to look at my friend with her arranged marriage and think that maybe her culture is really on to something.

Or perhaps even traditional Christian culture, too.  I have Mormon friends who dated and married so young that they didn't have time to discover all their partner's flaws.

Honestly, you could find a "good reason" to break up with anyone.

Perhaps it is better not to know?

Of course, "ignorance" will only prove benign if both people have good values and are willing to improve.

One thing's for sure, relationships require that we be better people.  They are a refiner's fire.  We can't expect anyone to just take us for who we are, that would be selfish.  Is any person perfect?

But the "work" element is also what makes relationships great.  Relationships give us the chance to be better people and grow in ways that we'd never have to if we could be solo and selfish all the time.

So . . .

Arranged marriage, Mom ad Dad . . . maybe?  Please?


Monday, January 10, 2011

Carousel: surprisingly thought-provoking

I gave this old Broadway classic a spin today, believing that it and I had some unfinished business. The last time I listened to Carousel, I watched the movie version, and the whole thing was so old-fashioned and over the top, that I didn't finish it. My experience with it today proved what I already knew to be true: Carousel is indeed the product of another era, (1945, to be exact). But, there were a few surprises a long the way, and I learned that 1) stepping into another time is a great way to get some perspective on the present, 2) we have more in common with people of the past than we may realize.

Songs titled, "This Was a Real Nice Clam Bake," and "While the Children are Asleep," paint the picture . . . with Carousel, you'll get more than your fair share of dated, quaint lyrics and dialogue romanticizing domesticity and small-town life. And then it hit me. There was a time when this wasn't old-fashioned, when these songs got air play, when this was a massive critical and popular sensation, when people would nod their heads along to these songs and go there with the characters. In "While the Children are Asleep," Mr. Snow sings with relish about the fleet of ships he hopes to maintain, the bevy of kids he can't wait to have, the time he'll spend with his wife at the end of the day . . . that's his dream.

That's his dream!

When was the last time you heard a young person say, "My dream is to be well off, living in a house filled to the rafters with kids, and happily married"? (My brother, actually, has said that . . . but he's such an anomaly, we won't count him, ha.)

As far as women go, the feminist movement sure blew that one to bits. Few women today would admit to that being their "dream" without feeling the need to apologize for being so unforgivably horse-and-buggy. Or maybe it's a class thing. As a woman, if you come from the middle classes on up, you're thinking about what college you want to go to, your career, what you're going to "be." But the funny thing is that, in my neighborhood, there are still lots of stay-at-home moms. Many women, regardless of the amount of education they get, will end up doing the traditional thing. My neighbor went to UC Berkeley and on to Law School . . . now she's at home full time with three girls. If you had asked her as a teenager what her "dream," was, it probably wasn't to be the housewife around the corner.

And yet, that's what she's doing. Probably because, at the end of the day, home and family are the most important thing, or at least co-equal with any other noble pursuit.

The way I see it, is that home and family are super-important, as well as career, education, hobbies, and other such things pertaining to personal development. For women and men, it's a tricky juggling act doing right by our families and doing right by ourselves. The juggling act is made all the more tricky by the fact that both dimensions are necessary. I think most people, to feel "complete," need a family/home life of some sort, but they also need a life outside of that. And yet there's so little time, both in a day, and in a lifetime as a whole. A woman can only (safely and easily) have kids through her 30s, and meanwhile, in this "career first" day and age, I've heard that more and more people are not matching up (hence the need for online dating services.) On the other end of the spectrum, you have my Mormon girlfriends who are my age (25) and already married with kids.

I guess nothing's perfect.

The old-fashioned "family first" ethic is heart-warming, but doesn't provide us with the total picture of happiness. And then today's model, where it's taken for granted that one will marry and have children, and some women are led to think: "I only became a housewife," is equally misleading; after all, a happy home-life, particularly a happy marriage, is one of the most rewarding things in life.

But, back to Carousel. Lest you think it's all darning stockings and apple pie, a pointedly resentful musical number took me by surprise and proved that people back then dealt with the complexities of things more than we realize. A chorus of women belted out something to the effect that a man is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and then individual singers went on and on about the horrors of household work, the inevitable hollowness of husband-wife relationships, the ennui of it all. The girls had come quite a long way from their cheery chattering early on in the show about this or that beau turned fiance. I guess it didn't work out :(

And then came the most striking moment in the musical. They collectively ask Julie Jordan, the female lead, for her opinion on all of this. Not having seen the movie for some time, I've forgotten the particulars of Julie's romance, but I do remember it was the centerpiece of the story . . . and perhaps because of that, because her romance ran deeper than that of the common lot, her response was quite thoughtful. The music turned contemplative, and she sang that it didn't matter how much work was involved, if the guy was good or bad, if things worked out as you planned or not . . . the only thing of any relevance was that: "He's your feller and you love him, that's all there is to that." That response might seem too facile on the one hand, given what she goes through with her guy. But there is a morsel of truth in it, I think. At the end of the day, life isn't glamorous or perfect. There are no fairy tales. But, when you love the people in your life, when you love what you do, it will make up for that. Love can turn the seemingly mundane, (or tragic, in her case), glass-is-half-empty sort of life, into a purposeful one.

We can probably all relate to the feeling of looking at other people and wondering what gets them out of bed in the morning . . . what keeps Mr. So-and-So on track and on the road by 8AM to get to work, what motivates him to come back at night, (I wouldn't want to return to that bratty bunch of kids), what keeps his wife doing the grocery shopping, etc. etc. What motivates most any of us to keep doing whatever it is we do, particularly once life has settled. Young people can be dream. But what about mid-life and beyond, when we come to terms with what will be and what will not be, when we join up with everyone else and find ourselves just getting by, just being everyday, just like . . . everyone else?

Julie's right: love's the answer, love's the thing that makes it all make sense. The more of it you have, the happier you'll be. And, if we take Julie's character as a model, we could further say that the key is to be yourself as much as possible, and then let love surprise you. Julie was always different from the other girls, (e.g. a song like, "You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan"). Ever an outsider and daydreamer, she doesn't fall for the safest guy (something that results in its own set of heartaches and complications). But, in spite of these imperfections, something about her marriage is deeper than those of the other girls, who fell in love and married more formulaically. Life starts catching up with them and they wonder if it's all worth it. Julie somehow knows it is.

Love is an irrational, but completely necessary ingredient. It's so irrational in fact, that it's discouraged, it almost gets ironed out of us. When I think of my own growing up, I was taught to worship values, to value being this way or that, to value achieving this or that, and to pursue things based on those values. While the values I was taught were all good, they were generic, having nothing to do with who I uniquely am or what I care about. In other words, I was taught to do things not for the joy of it, (or the love it), but because they are "right." It's a completely different mindset. As I've gotten older, I've gotten a bit more in tune with myself, and I've started doing things because I love them, not because I'm supposed to love them, or because they conform to the right values, but because I, independent of anyone or anything, love them, completely, totally, irrationally.

It's tempting to think that if we put love first, we'll be magically guided to the right profession or to Mr. or Mrs. Right. But I'm not sure it always works out that way. Julie Jordan's character is proof that just because you pursue something you love, doesn't mean you'll end up traveling down the safest, "best" possible path. But what she does have is conviction and passion, the likes of which make the tough times easier to swallow, and give her life a kind of richness, a richness that evades the more superficial characters.

This entry is so sprawling and in need of a proper conclusion and tidying up: but it's almost 4AM, time to to call it a night :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Five Essential Albums of Rock and Rap

Thanks to the incomparable Joe Venito for suggesting this topic. I can't say for rap, but I'll take a shot at rock. I've always been a greatest hits type, never one to listen to full albums (with the exception of David Bowie). So I'm just going to write about my five favorite rock artists/bands. You guys can read a history of rock anywhere so this entry is not so much an authoritative analysis of the genre . . . it's just my personal top five.

The Rolling Stones:

For me, rock music began with the Stones and achieved its classic high point with the Stones. They are the archetypal rock band: they've got the badass attitude; charisma; a powerful, distinctively grooving, rock rhythm section; hot guitar work; everything's sweaty and improvised . . . they were/are rebels par excellence and, above all, they knew how to capture that feeling of rebellion and translate it into musical sound.

Rock music grew up under the Stones. Before the Stones, it was the soundtrack to suburban teenage life, you know, sock-hop fare. But, with the Stones, rock started to sound smart, powerful, mature, soulful, . . . and very much for grown ups (at least college kid age, we'll say). It wasn't just for teenage girls to squeal at. Plus, it sounded musically sophisticated. The Stones were great players and, even this many years later, their records still sound fresh and grooving . . . particularly an album like Exile on Main Street.

Also, I think more than any other band, the Stones fused together blues, country, and RnB and gave it a little something extra to form bona fide rock music. Pre-Stones rock music tends to sound too heavily rooted in one genre or another, particularly country or RnB, to really sound like rock. Think of the country twang of rockabilly music (Carl Perkins's "Blue Suede Shoes") or the keyboard-driven RnB of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," the latter of which sounds like Ray Charles only faster and sillier. Or take a number like Elvis's "Hounddog": it's got that RnB thump to it, the beat hadn't quite changed . . . and it sounds like the great old blues singer Big Momma Thornton's version, only more uptempo and with pop-inflected backing vocals and hand claps. The genres had yet to gel with one another to form rock music, and, even though several key ingredients were in place (the backbeat, the party/rebel vibe, the instrumentation), the music just didn't rock yet. The Stones somehow knew how to make it rock, and they did this by making the music equal parts country, blues, and RnB with some gospel thrown in for good measure, and giving the music a new, tough, sexy attitude.

Part of the genius of the Stones is that they struck just the right balance between these disparate genres of music, not only fusing them to create rock, but using them to give the music just the right color. Their music is bright and sunny thanks to the country and gospel influences, but not too bright and sunny, like the Allman Brothers, or even Lynyrd Skynyrd. That said, their music is also somehow spiritual, deep, and even dark at times thanks to the blues, without getting too dark and bluesy like proto metal, e.g. Led Zeppelin, which I actually love, but which sometimes gets a bit too dark because there's no country or gospel influence to brighten things up.

I have the Rolling Stones to thank for my appreciation for American roots music, in particular country, blues, and gospel. Their album Exile on Main Street features all these genres and more, (even mixing in some Cajun if I recall correctly), to magical effect. I didn't even listen to country music until I heard Mick Jagger say he liked it, at which point I followed suit. The Stones showcase all of these genres to their best effect and further helped me understand an important principle: each of these genres, particularly country and the blues, is rooted deep in the American psyche. So, when rock music is steeped in these sounds, it strikes a primordial chord in the ear of the American listener--or really any listener, given the power of these genres of music--and has a kind of holiness about it.

Quite an achievement for a British band, eh?

For the reasons listed above, the Stones are my favorite band of all time, hands down. It's like, there wouldn't be Rock music with a capital R without them . . . and who knows what might have happened to hip-hop as a result. Run DMC made hip-hop cool by injecting it with a tough, rebellious, rock-n-roll look and sound. In other words, they put some Rolling Stones into hip-hop. Actually, we should say they put the Rolling Stones through Aerosmith, into hip-hop. Otherwise hip-hop might have remained some kind of novelty, dance/party music, I dunno. I saw a documentary on early, early, early hip-hop and it sounded silly, frankly, with cutesy-bootsy rhyming over dance beats. Even the battling sounded light, it really needed some muscle, some attitude. Perhaps we could say that the Rolling Stones helped rock *and* hip-hop to mature.

David Bowie:

David Bowie made rock music an artistic, avant-garde art form. His imaginative and literary lyrics; gender-bending personae; theatrical performing style; passion for modern art, science fiction, and fashion; and keen interest in new sounds (e.g. new styles of soul music and electronica), resulted in a sophisticated, rather high-brow brand of rock that lost none of its edginess in the process. Bowie showed that rock could be used to tell any story and express any and every emotion. In the process of becoming several different characters, (Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke), and writing in a dizzying array of styles, I think one can safely say that no rock artist has ever used rock music to say and do so much. Bowie showed that rock 'n roll wasn't merely "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll" as the saying goes.

What I learned from Bowie: be imaginative! Approach rock music with the awareness and depth of an artist.

Jimmy Page:

I guess I could have put Led Zeppelin here, but, in particular, I'm fascinated by Jimmy Page. He's my favorite guitarist. It's hard to put into words what I love about his playing, but I'll try. It sounds so manic: jagged and menacing at one moment, sensitive and heart broken at another, enchanted and otherworldly at the next. He sounds virtuosic and yet rough and raw. Above all, his playing sounds dangerous, like anything can happen. Really, for me, it's a very mystical pull. Every time I get discouraged in my practicing, I just watch a Led Zeppelin DVD. 1 min. of watching Jimmy will do the trick, and he's the one who made me want to play the guitar in the first place. His music is that force, that presence in the musical universe that makes me think, "Playing guitar in a hot rock band is the be all and end all of human existence, the absolute best-est, most badass thing a person could ever do and the most fun a person could ever hope to have, so . . . I just can't give up!"


In my opinion, Nirvana absolutely reinvigorated rock music. In the 80s, all the pop music was great and heavy metal was having a hey day, but rock music fell off the radar. Classic rock had run its course, the genre was tired out. Since the essence of rock music is rebellion, what was needed was a fresh take on that concept, and Nirvana did just that at the dawn of the 90s. Their music was psychologically rebellious. It was mental and, frankly, scary. You know, it was the whole dark grunge thing. But, somehow, when Nirvana did it, it was exciting. Their followers, who constitute the genre of "post-grunge" tended to just sound depressing. But Nirvana brought rock music to new "lows" without stripping the music of its vitality. And they sounded sophisticated and poetic doing it, also creating a new style of guitar work in the process (the grunge guitar sound).

Nirvana proved that rock music can stay relevant and, like Bowie, they showed that it can be used to explore most anything, so long as it is rooted in the concept of "rebellion." Their music wasn't about the standard fare . . . cars, women, drugs, (well, maybe drugs, I dunno). But it seems to be more about internal pain. I know Cobain was a big Bowie fan, covering Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," I think he got cues from Bowie to take rock music in a darker, more introspective direction. But, unlike Bowie, he made that angst the meat and potatoes of his sound. But it worked because it was just a new way of being rebellious, and that's what rock is all about. The lesson I learned from Nirvana? Be a rebel, in your own way, whatever that means.

One more thing I learned from Nirvana: the pen is mightier than the axe. While the heavy metal people were shredding away, Nirvana created music that was equally powerful if not more so because the lyrics were razor-sharp.

Jack White:

While I haven't actually listened to a lot of his work, what I've heard commands my respect because he did what I thought was impossible: he reinvented the blues. He made the blues sound contemporary all over again by giving it a new, punk attack. It's like punk blues. What I love, love, love about this is that his style of rock sounds current without sacrificing its core ingredients. Most artists, including my beloved David Bowie, modernized rock by stripping it of its traditional influences, (e.g. country and blues). But Jack White has a self-proclaimed love for Americana and roots music (I'm assuming that's why he lives in rural Tennessee). He's updated rock by updating its key ingredients, not tossing them out and replacing them with something foreign like jazz, pop, or electronica. His music gives me hope that rock music can stay vibrant into the future without losing touch with its roots. That's another way of saying that rock music as I know and love it and hope to play it, (warmed up by country and made soulful by the blues), will be relevant and a career playing in that mode is possible. That's pretty huge for me, so thanks Jack.

What about you, Joe? Who do you like?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asking questions, a simple and profound kindness

What is most important to a person's happiness?

That may not be the right question to pose given that it's 2 AM :) But an answer's already popped into my brain, so here goes: assuming there are many good answers, one possibility is that it's essential to feel connected to the people and world around us. It's important to feel valued, relevant, understood, and a sense of interdependency with at least a handful of people, if not more. If that's the case, then sincerely asking others about how they feel and what they think about this or that may be one of the kindest things a person can do. Nothing builds bridges like asking questions and, unless the people you're with feel comfortable freely volunteering information about themselves, there is no other way to bridge the divide.

The topic's been on my brain because I just had some conversations with people who are unable to do that. I asked them a question, they answered. I asked another, they answered. And so on and so on . . . and if I didn't ask them something, the conversation would go dead. I've been in so many conversations like that it seems. From my experience, most people love to chat about themselves and very few people socialize with the intent of connecting with others. If they wanted to connect, if they wanted it to be a two-way-thing, . . . they would ask questions.

Can you judge a person's character by how well they converse? I think so. I'm not referring of course to the size of their vocabulary or the profundity of their thoughts. I'm referring to the extent to which they converse for the purpose of connecting with others. Do they monopolize conversations, stealing the spotlight and promote their agendas? Or do they use conversations as opportunities to share their own opinions *and* have their minds enriched by the input of others? Or simply to laugh with others, share a moment in time with another person?

The people whom I most respect are excellent conversationalists. They possess the ingredients necessary for great conversation: confidence and curiosity. They like themselves enough to share their own thoughts, but, because they are curious about the world around them and because they genuinely care about other people, they are equally interested in knowing what others have to say.

On the flip side, the people I know who are the most self-centered and mean are the worst conversationalists. They constantly talk about themselves and their favorite topics and when it comes to other people and things in life they don't know about, they just don't care.

Somewhat on a tangent, I've decided that one of the meanest things a person can do is intentionally isolate another person. There are people in my life who, I'm sorry to say, are very mean and emotionally abusive. The way they abuse others is by isolating them: never laughing at their jokes, never sharing their opinions on anything, making them feel alone or awkward for feeling a certain way or saying a certain thing, not making eye-contact, flat out ignoring them and, of course, *never* asking questions. As someone who's been on the receiving end of that, I can say that isolation is one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. That makes connectedness one of the most joyful things I've ever experienced. Again, ask questions :) Or smile. Include the other person, etc. etc.

As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate kindness in others much more than I used to. Lately, I've found myself wanting to reach out to people I remember from my past who possessed that rare quality of truly caring about the world around them and the people in it . . . people who reached out to me. I can think of an old piano teacher, an aunt and uncle and a cousin. It's a short list, really. But I want people like that in my life. I think they possess a greatness, a generosity of spirit that inspires me to be a better person.

I've also re-evaluated what really matters when it comes to interacting with people. It's great if you're beautiful, funny, intelligent, . . . the life of the party as they say. But the thing that qualifies you to socialize is your desire to connect with others. As long as you approach any social situation with the desire to obtain some kind of mutual understanding, then it's a success. I have to keep that in mind sometimes, seeing as how I'm a rather reserved, quiet person. I never feel like I have anything to say. But that doesn't matter, actually. What matters is how well I reach out.

I'm too lazy now that it's 3:30 AM to give this a proper conclusion. Let's just say that I don't want to be like those people earlier who never ask questions if only because, in the long run, self-centered people end up isolating themselves. They don't grow. They're always on the defensive. They already know everything, and, as a result, they refuse to learn anything new. They're unable to truly cooperate with others and bring out the best in other people, which makes them unable to be partners in lasting, meaningful friendships and relationships. Sadly, for those emotionally abusive people I talked about earlier, I've watched the arc of their lives. I've watched them destroy themselves and so many good things. It's a poison. It's harrowing. It's tragic.

Ask questions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pascal on Christianity and . . . the Blues.

The Harvard Classics 15 min. a day program is an excellent way to dip into something thoughtful for a moment or two. I've commenced the habit and was rewarded with an excerpt from Blaise Pascal's Thoughts. I had heard of Pascal's mathematical achievements, but I was unaware of his passion for religion. Indeed, he devoted much of his intellectual life to defending the Jansenist sect of Catholicism.

In the particular essay I read, he posits that a person must come to know 1) there is a God and 2) their need for redemption, or their "wretchedness," as he put it. The world is set up in such a way as to make us aware of those two facts. There are moments when we experience the reality of God: in nature, in the power of love, our consciences may evidence it. But there are equally moments of godlessness . . . when we sin or watch the sufferings of others at the hand of sin or natural disasters, etc. In other words, our experience is set up in such a way that we experience both the reality of God and the reality of living in a fallen world, a world in which we are separated from God . . . hence the need for a divine intermediary, Jesus Christ. Christianity allows us to make sense of why we sometimes feel God is there, and why we sometimes feel that He isn't. That's because he *is* there, it's just that, in our current fallen state, we are separated from him. Pascal's reasoning is perhaps the closest we can ever come to answering the question, "If God is real, then why do bad things happen?" In fact, Pascal explained that our awareness of evil and suffering can potentially be faith-promoting because it can prove to us the need for Jesus Christ.

This line of thinking brought the blues to mind. I've always wondered why blues music feels so powerful and I wonder if it has something to do with the blending of the major and minor modes . . . do we possibly hear that as a musical metaphor for life, with it's blending of good and evil as discussed by Pascal, as experienced by all of us? I think the blues might be an excellent sonic illustration of Christian doctrine.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Lady Gaga changd my life . . .

I always respected Gaga's extraordinary visual imagination and songwriting abilities, but this performance doubled my admiration for her. It shows off her voice, performance skills, piano playing, and rock 'n roll attitude. As a singer in training, I'm wowed by anyone who sounds good live and it was nice to see her performing at her instrument without all the potentially distracting clothes and dancers and sets, etc. She's so skilled at putting on a spectacle that I think it sometimes distracts from her sheer musicianship.

As far as the rock 'n roll attitude, there are very few who can pull this off. It's a spiritual orientation and a powerful, devil-may-care charisma that few possess. No woman has ever nailed it to my satisfaction with the exception of Alanis Morisette. So big props to Gaga for taking us to that place . . .

Oh yeah ... I switched from piano to guitar some years ago feeling that the piano didn't let me "rock out" enough . . . but there was something about this performance that made me want to revive the piano playing again.

Thank you for inspiring me, Miss Gaga!